Courthouse Rally Will Continue As Planned in New York Wednesday 27th May

International Experts to Speak About Shell in Nigeria, Then and Now

Who: International experts and campaigners, supporters of corporate accountability, human rights, and environmental justice.  Speakers to include:  Brent Blackwelder, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International and Ben Anumwa, campaigner from PLATFORM. (see bios below)


What: Rally, speakers, creative political theater

Where: Foley Square, Manhattan, at the ‘Triumph of the Spirit Monument’ across from U.S. Federal Courthouse

When: 12:00pm Noon, Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why: Rally to support landmark trial, and call for end to Shell’s abuses in Nigeria

New York–A rally will proceed as scheduled in Foley Square, close to the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse beginning at noon tomorrow, Wednesday May 27, despite a last minute announcement today of a delay in the opening of the landmark Wiwa v. Shell trial.

International experts and campaigners will be on hand to provide commentary and up-to-the-minute analysis on the current situation, including ongoing gas flaring in the Niger Delta. The rally is being organized by members of the ShellGuilty Campaign: a coalition effort of Friends of the Earth U.S. and Friends of the Earth International, Oil Change International and PLATFORM’s Remember Saro-Wiwa project, with support from environmental and human rights groups in Nigeria, North America, and Europe.

The rally in New York tomorrow follows after troops broke up peaceful protests in Nigeria today, where activists from Ogoni and other communities were barred from solidarity rallies and some arrested by soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Rivers State. Most of those arrested are women (in 5 buses) were on their way to Ken Saro-Wiwa’s village for a rally to protest the complicity of Shell and the Nigerian government in the Ogoni murders in advance of the opening of the trial in New York.

Visit www.ShellGuilty.com for more information on gas flaring, and our efforts to demand that Shell comes clean, and ends gas flaring once and for all.

Background:

After more than thirteen years, multinational oil giant Royal Dutch Shell must finally answer to charges that it conspired with the Nigerian military to bring about the execution of Nigerian human rights and environmental leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues. The November 10, 1995 executions of the ‘Ogoni 9’ caused global outrage, and a massive backlash against the company.

Shell also faces charges for arming, financing, and transporting the Nigerian military, which conducted raids on villages that resulted in beatings, torture, shootings, and killings of innocent people in the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta. The plaintiffs, including Saro-Wiwa’s family, charge Shell with colluding with the military to suppress nonviolent opposition to its operations in the oil-rich Delta region.

The historic trial will open in the wake of recent raids by the Nigerian military in the Niger Delta, which local people have said resulted in massacres of civilians. The military has said its operations intended to root out armed groups that are opposed to the exploitation of oil resources by foreign multinationals.

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International Experts Available for Interviews and Analysis:

Steve Kretzmann is Executive Director of Oil Change International and has worked on international oil issues for more than 20 years. He was an advisor to Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People. In April 2009, he testified in the US Congress regarding the impact of the oil industry on the Niger Delta. Cell: +1 202 497 1033

Ben Amunwa is a campaigner for PLATFORM, a charity that focuses on the impact of the oil industry on local communities. He coordinates remember saro-wiwa, a project to create a Living Memorial to Ken Saro-Wiwa in London, UK. The project uses art and activism to raise awareness about the ongoing injustices in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta. Ben has relatives in oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta. Cell: +1 617 717 4653

Han Shan is ShellGuilty Campaign Coordinator for Oil Change International. A longtime human rights and environmental activist and film producer, he’s traveled internationally investigating human rights and social justice issues. Han and be video blogging and Twittering from the courthouse during the trial. Cell: +1 917 418 4133

Nnimmo Bassey is Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria (also known as Environmental Rights Action). Nnimmo established the organization in response to human rights abuses in Nigeria that have stemmed from the unbridled pursuit of natural resources by both government and transnational corporations. Over the 9-year history of Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Nnimmo has suffered arrests and harassments aimed at silencing him and preventing him from associating with other advocacy groups. Tel/Fax: +234-52-880-619. Cell: +234 803 727 4395